Friday, August 12, 2022

Breath and Lightness Moments This Week

"A good day is when, despite the problem,
you can give breath and lightness to your life."

It's been a wonderful week. Idyllic summer weather with plenty of pleasures and little moments that have stamped themselves on my heart. We breathe in these moments and let them settle.... let them take the edge off what isn't perfect in our own world, or the world at large.

A few moments that filled my joy reservoir this week included watching Miss Peace Rose (top) blooming her heart out; visiting the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens with dear friends; having lunch with my mom and sisters at the Italian Centre where we enjoyed conversation and delicious Affogatos (more below); smiling in happiness as our yard filled with a cacophonic chorus of adolescent birds practicing their whistles and calls—chickadees and blue jays and crows all trying to imitate their parents but not quite getting the whistles in the right key. So sweet.

What a thrill to be present to it all.

For this Five on Friday post, I've cobbled together a few thoughts about what else has filled my tank this week.... all with the hope there is something here that will now give lightness and breath to your own day.

🙚 one 🙘

Should you be longing to visit a wonderful garden this summer but cannot for whatever reason, here is a gorgeous one I enjoyed vicariously on YouTube. I was inspired by tour guide Alexandra as she shared her enthusiasm for her favourite garden at Gravetye Manor Hotel in Sussex, England. Alexandra tells her viewers that she first visited the gardens during her December honeymoon and vowed one day to return when all the flowers were in bloom. Thirty years later, she and her husband came to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. The gardens were originally created in 1885 by William Robinson, an Irish gardener who popularized the English garden style. Video is about 7 minutes.


🙚 two 🙘

A serendipitous discovery of this video on William Morris: Useful Beauty in the Home gave me a lovely glimpse into William Morris's life and dream to bring back traditional craft techniques during the 19th century industrial age. It includes a little of how the Arts and Craft movement came to be. And if that has you thirsty for more, check out this 5-minute piece about Kelmscott House, home to William and his wife, Jane Morris. A nice peek at his own creative work and his love of the beautiful.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." From the first moment I bumped into these words by William Morris years ago, I embraced them. His advice dovetailed with my own heart's desire to live my life more beautifully. They became a kind of guideline on how I could more selectively choose what I wanted to surround myself with in my home and life.   

The image above is from Amazon where they advertise a lovely notebook with the William Morris design 'Strawberry Thief' on its covers. I'm happy to report that a couple of these notebooks are now tucked into my shopping cart.

🙚 three 🙘

I felt that delicious, familiar thrill this week when I opened the covers of this new to me novel Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I came across the title in a social media list where people had been invited to recommend their top favourite book. From the enthusiastic responses by readers, I felt drawn to find it. According to the blurb on Amazon, it's considered one of the most important books of the twentieth century. A Southern love story with a strong black female protagonist who knows what she desires in life.

Here is one excerpt that had me saying I must get this book for myself - I've currently got the library copy at home:
"In the circular narration of Their Eyes Were Watching God, at the end of the book, a whole new life lies ahead, uncharted for a still relatively young Janie Crawford. She has told her story and has satisfied 'that oldest human longing—self revelation'. And now she must go on."
That oldest human longing of self revelation. Oh yes, I recognize that! Isn't that why we blog and write letters and share our little (and big) stories with one another, revealing our personal histories through words? Don't we all long for someone to know who we are, what we think and believe, what matters to us, what gives us joy and pain? And to have the thrill one day come when someone out there responds with a resounding, 'Yes, I hear you. Me too!'

🙚 four 🙘

J.S. Bach is one of my favourite composers. I can never decide who is my top favourite—Bach or Mozart—so they both sit first place in my heart. Chopin also nudges in there with some of his pieces that capture my heart. Listening to Bach's Air is pure bliss. Not only am I smitten by Bach's creative beauty in music, but I admit that fine looking musician, David Garrett, is pretty easy on the eyes too. Hope these three minutes gives you a lift of the soul.

🙚 five 🙘

My absolute favourite summer treat this season is the Italian Affogato (pronounced AH-FOH-GAH-TOE). Simple yet so delicious, it's a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream with a hot spritz of espresso poured over top, served in a small glass cup or mug. It can be sipped as a drink or savoured as a dessert with a spoon. Our local Italian shop serves it with the tiniest coffee spoon - I think to make the experience last longer. Alas, I didn't take pictures—I was too busy oohing and aahing and savouring—so here is one from Pixabay to give you an idea. 

The word gelato is Italian for ice cream. Italian gelato is a little different to our ice cream in North America. The Italian version uses less cream and is whipped slower, it's denser with a creamier texture. Heaven in a mug.

🙚 bonus 🙘

View in the Japanese Garden
I couldn't not show you a few photos from our visit to the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens near Devon, Alberta. It was a lovely outing. Above is a view in the Japanese Garden, one of my favourite spots to come and contemplate life or even fall in love (there's a story in there from many years ago).

And below is the neatest plant. It's called Euphorbia obesa and we found it in the desert pavilion. It's charming and amazing to think that it's a plant. Doesn't it look like a fancy pin cushion or a Scottish Christmas ball in soft Tartan plaid?

Me in the Butterfly Pavilion

Hope you enjoyed your visit.
On that note, I'm wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Top-Miss Peace Rose, August 2022
One-Photo from Gravetye Manor website
Two-Photo from Amazon website
Three-My photo of book cover
Four-Video from YouTube
Five-Affogato photo by Sharon Ang from Pixabay
Bonus: My photos from Botanic Garden


  1. sounds wonderful. I love affogattos as well. We used to shop at the Italian Centre, even when we moved up north. We'd drive back to Edmonton and always went and stocked up on some of the pantry essentials and espresso beans. I need to remember to visit the Japanese Gardens out towards Devon. The last time I was there it still wasn't completed so I can imagine how amazing it is now.

    1. The Japanese Garden is mature and quite lovely now. I think early summer is a good time to visit it, when the irises and peonies are blooming. We visited in August and both were done by then. The pond is lovely any time. Thanks, Diane, for stopping by.

  2. So much beauty. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and images.

  3. Oh Brenda!!!! Again and again!!! I SO thank you for sharing your thoughts, things you love because I “take” and feel such JOY in everything you post! I was so hoping for a post today. The first quote is a perfect one for me today. Thank you!
    I also have wanted to explore some gardens around my area, however, haven’t. Can’t wait to get on line and “walk through” the various gardens you mentioned today.
    The music ~ I love being given a reason to “sit and simply listen, thank you.
    And the “affigato( wrong spelling) ?” Some friends and I had a chance to try one from a small shop in Ohio!:). The “idea” sounded amazing. Can imagine with real Italian gelato which you describe as creamier makes me want to experiment at home with another!
    Talk about “filling my joy resevoir”….. you do it every time!!!!!! THANKYOU SO MUCH ~ Ann

    1. Ann, thank you so much for your enthusiastic and beautifully affirming comments. Let me know how your Affogato experiment at home turns out.

      In the words of Iris Murdoch: "One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats." So true. So here is to filling our joy reservoirs!

  4. Beautiful post. I love walking in botanical gardens. Affogato is a favorite of mine as well. Usually served with dark chocolate shavings when I make it at home! Enjoy your weekend.

    1. Adding dark chocolate shavings must add a rich deliciousness to the already splendid treat.

  5. Very interesting, especially the Euphorbia Obesa. It made me search for more.

    1. That is such an interesting plant. Did you find out a lot more about it?

  6. Lovely subjects! I happened across a William Morris video on YouTube last week about his home, was it Red House or maybe Redd House? Fascinating! I read Their Eyes Were Watching God decades ago but need to read it again and yes, Brenda, their is that lovely feeling when you connect with what someone writes and you think, I hear you, me too! I often have my CD Breakfast with Bach on to begin my day but I have never heard of an Affogatto and have written it down. I would definitely reach for that beautiful "pincushion" if I saw it at a thrift store.
    Thank you for the video links, Brenda. I appreciate the effort to provide them.
    Best to you,
    Dewena (I cannot figure out how to comment under my Google account, even though I am signed in!)

    1. Dewena, I don't know what B-logger is doing with our blog platform. They are always changing things and then things we're used to don't work anymore. Thanks for leaving your name in the comment so I know it was you who stopped by. Oh, I watched the Red House Youtube as well, it came up on my William Morris search. Really enjoyed that one as well. I hope you will try an Affogato one day - you'll have to let me know if you enjoyed it. Happy day to you!

  7. I've always liked the Willliam Morris quote. That's how I justify my teacup and teapot collection. HA!

    I wonder if I can make an affogato using matcha...

    P.S. I'm having the same commenting challenges as Dewana.

    1. P.S. Since I can't comment using my Google account, my workaround is the Name/URL option.

    2. Margie, I really don't know what is going on with B-logger! They keep changing things, and it's not usually for the better IMHO. I'm glad you found a way around your not being able to comment using your G-oogle account. It's strange. On a different note, I don't see why you can't try a matcha version of affogato.

  8. What a lovely week you have had. I watched the first video you shared - Gravetye - and I'm excited to get to the other ones. Lady Peace Rose is exquisite, and the next time I'm at the Italian Centre I'll be trying one of those Affogatos. Yum! Oh, and that Euphorbia ... yes it does look plaid!

    1. I've had so many 'treats' of the week these last few summer days/weeks. I feel quite pampered. It's so much about really noticing the littlest things around us. As the years pass, I find myself paying more and more attention to what's around me every day. I hope you love the Affogato! I dream about the next time I can visit and experience another one. Haha!

  9. Ah, so many joys! I love gardens, and will check out that video. When I came across that William Morris quote, I took it too my heart as I have always felt this! Kindreds! I am not a coffee drinker but that Affogato makes me want to try! And last the Euphorbia! What?! It has tartan! I must check this plant out! Thank you for all the beauty you've shared!

    1. Isn't that Euphorbia the neatest thing? I'd love to meet it in the real desert one day. In my opinion, I think it's worth the try of an Affogato, even if you're not a coffee drinker. And you can always rescue the scoop of gelato from the espresso if it's not to your taste. :)

  10. Nancy Marie Allen16 August 2022 at 05:49

    Your posts are like little vacations from our crazy world! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Nancy, you squeezed my heart with your words. Thank you! I'm truly happy and honoured you enjoy your visits here. xo

  11. What an absolutely gorgeous post. I am refreshed from visiting with you today! I do not get around to visit as much as I used to, but obviously the Lord sent me here today! Imagine my surprise when I came upon your #2 the lovely Strawberry Thief pillow, the very same one that my dear daughter for me as a surprise on our visit to Stirling Castle last month on my 72th birthday!. I think we are quite simpatico in what brings us joy and peace. Thank you for this lovely visit!!

    1. You were at Stirling Castle for your birthday? What a treat indeed. We visited it briefly during our trip to the UK in 2016. A lovely spot. And to receive that lovely Strawberry Thief pattern in a pillow from your daughter. Oh my! I'm so pleased you found your way here today. Providential! Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

    2. Dear Brenda, I so enjoyed my visit and you did have a lovely week. So many beautiful things and wonderful information. Hope this finds you having a nice weekend.

  12. Oh my, this post is just full of wonderful links and inspirations! I love that quote by William Morris and try to keep it in mind when faced with adding or subtracting something from my own home.


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo